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Scavengers' deadly, ever-changing world offers the perfect challenge, no matter your approach

Scavengers is a strategic shooter where you'll need to rely on your split-second combat instincts, ruthless cunning, and most importantly, seamless teamwork if you want to win. Set in a punishing frozen world, you'll have to use all your wits to survive against both other players and everything that the wasteland around you can throw your way.

After a cataclysmic asteroid strike ushered in a perpetual winter, a virus made life even harder for those who managed to survive. Sheltering off-planet, you'll need to head back to the surface to look for a cure while also catering to the whims of Mother, the AI that controls your sanctuary, but who also sends you back out to the frozen wastes. Once there, you'll need to gather data points faster than your opponents while also paying close attention to the world around you. Tracks in the snow can help you catch up to other players, but also mean that your enemies can seek you out. Wildlife can be used to hinder your foes, but might also turn on you. There's no one way to win, but there are plenty of different ways to die.  

At the heart of Scavengers is data. Every match sees you drop in, gather as much information from the world as possible, and then fight your way to the extraction ship, all while trying to make sure you've collected more data points than your surviving opponents. As your squad traverses the world, it'll need to fight to survive against AI-controlled threats in free-form PvE combat, as well as other players in PvP. At the start of the game, each player chooses a specific Explorer. Armed with unique abilities and weapons to help your character thrive in any situation, you'll be able to develop a loadout that's a perfect fit for you and your team. 

If you're planning to go on an all-out offensive, for example, you might choose to play as Jae. Armed with his trusty halberd, Maverick, his Overshield ability lets him replenish broken defenses, and rewards him for every kill he gets. To help out on that front, your teammates could choose Halden, whose Curative Aura ability offers a burst of health in a tricky situation, or Cruz, whose Tailwind helps his team close the gap for maximum destruction. If your team is opting for a stealthier approach, sniper Tarik is an excellent choice. Using his Stun Traps to slow down enemy players, he can pick them off at long range. Partnered with Kali, whose Active Camo ability and Heartseeker bow let her sneak up on her foes before finishing them off with a well-placed arrow, and Valora, who can help hold down a position or hold off the elements with her Aegis Shield, your entire team can stay well-protected, well hidden, and well away from danger.

Once you head out into the wastes, you'll need to be prepared for anything. Scavengers' huge map lets you take any approach you like, but you'll struggle to pull off the same plan twice. As well as fighting off any other players you spot, you'll have to contend with unpredictable AI enemies, from the Scourge - hordes of crazed mutants corrupted by a world-ending virus - to armies of marauders trying to seize control of this shattered world. As you travel around, seeking out fights as well as the all-important data that you'll need to gather if you want to escape, you'll also have to contend with the weather. When a blizzard rolls in, even the best laid plans can fall apart, and with the elements constantly sapping your strength, sometimes survival can hinge on finding the best place to ride out the storm. 

Throw enemy players into the mix, and you'll really need to adapt to survive. Do you lie in wait and spring a trap, or just try and pick them off from afar? Pull them towards an AI encampment, or simply drive them into an ice storm and let the weather do the rest? Even when you reach the endgame, there's no one way to win - do you make an all-guns-blazing rush for the extraction ship, or try and sneak on undetected in the closing seconds of the match? Whatever your style, as long as you can hold a weapon, you can find a way to make sure you make it back off-planet.

Scavengers is at the cutting edge of online multiplayer. Its unique blend of survival, PvP, and PvE gameplay ensures that no two games ever play out the same way. And as developer Midwinter Entertainment literally pushes the boundaries of how big these games can get with its 4,000-player ScavLab lobbies, the current period of early access ahead of a full launch planned for later this year is an opportunity to be part of the future of competitive play. Completely free-to-play, you can download it right now on PC via both Steam and the Epic Games Store, and follow along with the game's evolving experience via the official Twitter account and Discord server.

Ali Jones

I'm GamesRadar's deputy news editor, working with Ben T across our gaming news articles. I started my journalistic career while getting my degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick, where I also worked as Games Editor on the student newspaper, The Boar. Since then, I've run the news sections at PCGamesN and Kotaku UK, and also regularly contributed to PC Gamer. As you might be able to tell, PC is my platform of choice, so you can regularly find me playing League of Legends or Steam's latest indie hit.